Black Petals Issue #78 Winter, 2017

The Lucky Break

Mars-Chris Friend
All is As It Should Be-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Clown Attack-Fiction by Paul Strickland
One Hell of an Interview-Fiction by Daniel Clausen
Sacrifices-Fiction by Toney Baus
Self-Immolation-Fiction by Michael Mulvihill
Surviving Montezuma, Ch. 5 &6-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
The Lucky Break-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Those Other Guys-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Only at Night-Poem by Cindy O'Quinn
Ouija-Poem by Ramona Thompson
Roadkill Cat-Poem by Ramona Thompson


The Lucky Break


By Hillary Lyon


Taking after her dad?



Her mother couldn’t stand an empty room, so she filled every available space with furniture. Got to the point where you couldn’t turn around without cracking an elbow or knocking a knee against some solid piece of it. Dana promised herself, when she got a place of her own, she’d have one room with absolutely nothing in it.

She’d lie in her bed at night and dream about that possibility. She’d open the door and step into an emptiness that went on for miles in all directions. The very idea of it made her sigh with relief.  She could spread her arms in that room, and twirl and dance and jump—even overhead, because the ceiling was so high she couldn’t see the end of it. She could sing or yell or scream, and her voice traveled so far it just disappeared.

In the mornings, when she sat at the breakfast table with her mother, she knew better than to mention her dreams. Her mother didn’t like the idea of a barren room; or rather, she did, but only in the context of filling it up with furniture.

“I thought we’d go antiquing this weekend,” her mother suggested one Friday morning as she sipped her bitter coffee. “There’s a flea market this Sunday in Waketcha County, and since I just got paid, I want—”

“I really don’t want to go shopping for more junk this weekend.” Dana’s shoulders sagged at the thought of wasting a day looking at old furniture, or worse, dragging it back to the house and spending hours deciding where to fit it in.

“It won’t be junk, sweetheart, it’ll be a treasure. We’re going treasure hunting.” Her mother dismissed her protest and began to flip through a dog-eared IKEA catalog.

“Whatever. I have to go or I’ll be late for class.” Dana kissed the air by her mother’s cheek.

“Hmm, love you,” her mother mumbled, still engrossed in the glossy catalog.

In class, Dana daydreamed. She sketched floor plans of vacant rooms in spacious houses instead of taking notes. 

“Hey Dana,” her friend, Judy, who sat behind her, whispered, “look what I found!”

Dana turned enough to look over her shoulder. “What is it?”

“A little bird’s wishbone. Can you believe it? Found it on the sidewalk under the elm tree. Wanna make a wish?” The girl giggled conspiratorially.

“Sure, why not?” Dana grabbed one leg of the wishbone and yanked. She ended up with the larger half.

“Damn!” Judy whined, “I hoped I’d get the big end. I wanted my wish to come true. I mean, I’m the one who found the wishbone!”

“Yeah, well, we can’t all get the lucky break.” Dana smiled as she turned back to her desk. Wouldn’t it be nice if wishes did come true?

When the last bell finally rang, she gathered her books and trudged home, not looking forward to navigating her way through her mother’s overcrowded house. Sometimes, she thought of home as being a dark, alien forest she had to traverse to get to the sanctuary of her room. She followed the well-worn path in the carpet.

At dinner, apropos of nothing, Dana put her fork down and said to her mother: “You’re a hoarder, like the people I’ve seen on TV shows about that. You collect furniture instead of dolls or knickknacks. I mean, this place is like an overstocked warehouse. I can’t stand—”

 Without looking up, her mother said simply, “Go to your room.”

 Dana shoved her chair back abruptly, knocking into the sideboard close behind her, which in turn knocked over a large pottery vase. “See what I mean? Can’t move an inch in this house without—”

 “I said, go to your room.”

 Dana slammed her bedroom door. “Living in this house is like living in a losing game of Tetris,” she shouted.

 Her mother said something in reply Dana couldn’t hear, maybe about how that was her favorite game when she was younger, or something lame like that. Dana didn’t care what her mother had to say. She plopped down on her bed and fantasized about a perfect, vacant room. Before long she was asleep.

 Next morning, she rose long after sunrise. Like she did every weekend, she put on her grubbiest jeans and t-shirt—her comfy clothes, she called them—a fashion disaster, her mother said. Still muddleheaded with sleep, she opened her door and walked out into the hallway. The small bookcases and end tables cluttering up the hall were gone; perhaps her mother had moved them—most likely to make room for whatever junk she bought this weekend. 

 The den was empty as well, and so were all the other rooms of the little house. And where was her mom, anyway? Before she gave over to her rising panic, the thought occurred to her: this must be a dream, a dream of uncluttered spaces. She smiled and stretched. I should pull back the curtains, and let bright clean sunlight flood this place, she decided. It’ll be like I’m in an aquarium full of air and light instead of murky water and slimy rocks. She hopped over to the window and pushed back the curtain to find—

Nothing. Oh, there was light emanating from somewhere—to bathe a landscape of emptiness: no color, no shapes, and no depth—just nothing. Dana turned from the window to find herself in that same vacuous landscape stretching before her, beneath her, above her—nothing. This place didn’t leave her feeling elated and free, as she had speculated it would. Instead, she felt lost and abandoned. She didn’t care for this dream at all.

“Ok, Dana,” she said bravely to herself, “time to wake up.” She slapped her own face, hard enough to bring tears. “Hey mom! MOM!” she yelled, hoping her mother would hear her and come rushing into her room to gently shake her awake, like she’d do when Dana was little and had nightmares. But her distress call just faded into the ether, and her mother didn’t answer.

The window, Dana thought. If I can find the window and close the curtain, maybe this will go away and the house will return to normal. Dana turned in a circle, frantically. There was no window to be seen, no curtain to be pulled. 

“Stupid, stupid wish!” Dana cried. “I take it back. I un-wish it! I don’t want it!”

But the powers that grant wishes rarely revoke them. Sometimes, though, they will alter them just for fun.

“I miss my mother! I miss all my mother’s furniture! I miss the crowded house! I want it all back, and I want it back now! Judy can have the damn wishbone! Please just give it all back—”

Overhead, small specks grew into larger spots, spots that cast dark shadows over Dana. She looked up just in time to jump aside, as a heavy wooden sideboard came crashing down beside her, and, after that, the dining room table, and then the Victorian-era sofa. Each piece landed haphazardly atop the other, building a towering stack. More and more items fell, creating new towers, with each piece locking into place. Soon, everywhere Dana ran, she was blocked by furniture. She realized she must climb up one of those towers to escape to…who knew where?

So up she went, dodging small items like ottomans and lamps and end tables and potted plants, climbing higher and higher until she finally reached the topmost point. Standing up, she looked at all the junk below, and then, far away, she heard tinkly 8-bit music—familiar music from an old video game. Before she could form a coherent thought about this, Dana and all the furniture and assorted junk came tumbling down, and disappeared.


The End



Hillary Lyon,, who wrote BP #78’s “The Lucky Break,” lives in southern Arizona, where she founded and still edits poetry journals for Subsynchronous Press. Her stories have appeared in 365 Tomorrows, Night to Dawn, Eternal Haunted Summer, and numerous horror anthologies such as Alternate Hilarities 5: One Star Reviews of the Afterlife, Stories from the Graveyard, Fright Mare, and More Tales from the Blue Gonk Cafe. When not writing, she hand-paints boxes and furniture in the colorful, Dia de los Muertos style. 

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